A Social Impact $100K Donation Collaboration – When Detroiters and Black Non-Profits Win    

Dwan Dandridge, right, co-founder and CEO of  Black Leaders Detroit Fund (BLDF), and Kevin Armstrong join forces on impacting the non-profit Black community in Detroit.  

Photo courtesy of D. Ericson & Associates Public Relations


It started with a conversation that, over time, turned into a $100,000 donation that would assist a Black nonprofit organization while simultaneously helping answer one white couple’s question on how to impact social justice close to home.

Dwan Dandridge, co-founder, and CEO of Black Leaders Detroit Fund (BLDF) recently received $100,000 for his nonprofit organization whose mission is to impact Detroit neighborhoods by supporting Black-owned or -led businesses.

Their base funding model encompasses Black business leaders/owners willing to commit to supporting the organization at $1 a week. Money collected from BLDF fundraising efforts are directed back into supporting Black-owned or -led businesses in Detroit.

Launched in October 2019, BLDF has a social impact responsibility and Dandridge isn’t shy about pulling people along the way to help.

Dandridge did just so after developing a meaningful relationship with Kevin Armstrong and his wife Megan after they moved to Detroit in 2013 living in the Boston-Edison neighborhood. They bought their home from the City of Detroit’s Land Bank program for about $100,000 and received home-buying grants to reduce their home purchase to $80,000.

As Kevin Armstrong worked his way through the community by learning from local leaders what Detroit, especially Black Detroit, prioritized he met with Dandridge who eventually became his mentor.

The Armstrong family would sell their home (to move to Colorado for missionary work) years later, and made a substantial profit of several hundred thousand dollars from the sale of their Boston-Edison home.

As the friend-mentor relationship grew, the duo broke barriers and spoke on a variety of topics from race relations to a shared faith in Christianity.

Dandridge said after they moved to Detroit, the Armstrongs started to learn about disparities when it comes of access to resources and opportunities for longtime Black Detroiters in comparison to newer white Detroiters. “They started to seek more education on just things like what gentrification meant, the Black experience and ways to make sure they didn’t continue to play a role in perpetuating some of the disparities.”

Dandridge said that during one of their talks in 2013, there was an “ask” being made of him that he hasn’t always seen valued by white people — to learn more about Black culture in Detroit from a first-hand perspective.

“When white people ask or invite Black people to a table to participate or collaborate, they fail to understand or properly weigh the value of what we bring to the table,” he said. “It was a heavy request when Kevin asked to tap into the one resource I have that he wanted — my years of experience and knowledge as a Black man living in this community. For that to happen there needed to be a price, not one for me personally, but one for the benefit of the community.”

Fast forward to today, Kevin and Megan sold their house and began preparing to move to Colorado to continue their missionary work, and when they put their home up for sale and tripled their profit (selling it for around $400,000), Dandridge came back to the Armstrongs reminding them of that “ask” from back in 2013. He asked the couple to do something for the community in the form of equity for all they received from Detroit and its people.

When Dandridge poured his heart out to share with Kevin Armstrong on this matter, he requested of him a monetary donation to BLDF of $100,000. Dandridge said that the working-class family agreed, and the $100,000 donation will not be forgotten, and will help the BLDF help the non-profit Black community.

Dandridge added that in January BLDF will be taking applications for a portion of the contribution to support non-interest loans for their non-profit sector work.

BLDF will use the donation to create a specific funding source for Black developers with a social impact component tied to it to help Detroit.

Dandridge said that his friends told him that their donation was him offering them a gift, an opportunity to give back to a city that blessed them.

“They felt a sense of responsibility based on things they learned,” he said adding that they didn’t want to “just cash out” and make this “ridiculous profit.”

For more information visit https://blackleadersdetroit.org/.





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